SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — San Diego County public health officials reported 1,113 new COVID-19 infections and 51 fatalities Thursday, breaking a three-day streak of fewer than 1,000 new cases and bringing the number of cases since the start of the pandemic to just shy of 250,000 and the death toll to 2,955.
Of 21,356 tests reported Thursday by the county's Health and Human Services Agency, 5% returned positive, continuing a slow decrease in the 14-day rolling average of positive tests to below 6.5%, the lowest yet this year.
San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher noted the increase in new case numbers and deaths but said numbers overall were still trending favorably.
In the last two days, 102 people have died of the virus in the county, 83 of whom were senior citizens, according to the HHSA. Fletcher asked people to be cautious and be aware the virus still remains deadly.
Hospitalizations continued to decline, dropping to 945 from 992 on Wednesday. The number of intensive care patients decreased by 12 to 306, and the HHSA said there were 46 available staffed ICU beds in the county as of Thursday.
San Diego County coronavirus inoculation sites have received 651,450 doses of vaccine and administered 550,707 doses, according to the HHSA.
A total of 15.5% of San Diegans age 16 and over have received at least one of the two shots required to develop antibody protection against the virus. Around 3.3% of the population over the age of 16 is fully vaccinated.
San Diego County Fire Protection District personnel have helped to vaccinate more than 10,000 county residents against COVID-19 over the past month as part of "Operation Collaboration."
Officially launched Dec. 29, Operation Collaboration is a combined effort between dozens of fire, emergency medical service, public health agencies and hundreds of personnel in the San Diego area to meet the COVID vaccination needs of some of the county's most vulnerable residents.
"Operation Collaboration is an important resource as we ensure vaccines are provided equitably to people throughout our entire county," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer. "Just as they did during COVID-19 testing, the first responder community is again demonstrating its creativity and commitment to public health."
San Diego County Fire Chief Tony Mecham said the operation consists of two phases: getting the first responders who administer the vaccines vaccinated themselves and setting up dispensing locations to administer the vaccine to those currently eligible.
Officials announced Wednesday that Scripps Health, San Diego County and the Del Mar Fairgrounds are planning to open a COVID-19 vaccination super station at the fairgrounds on Friday.
The Scripps Del Mar Fairgrounds Vaccination Super Station, located at 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., will provide drive-thru and walk-thru services on an appointment-only basis to anyone eligible to receive a shot under county guidelines.
Current plans call for the station to open initially from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, and from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday and Sunday. Longer hours and more days of operation will be added as more vaccine doses become available.
Fletcher said another vaccine distribution site is in the works for Vista.
Appointment slots will be posted on the county's vaccination website at www.vaccinationsuperstationsd.com once they are available.
San Diego County's COVID-19 case rate has dropped dramatically in recent weeks. As recently as Jan. 19, the county reported an adjusted rate of 60.6 new infections per 100,000 residents. As of Tuesday, the number dropped to 34.2 per 100,000. The case rate is updated every Tuesday.
However, the county has a long way to go. To come out of the most- restrictive purple tier in the state's four-tiered reopening plan, the county needs to register fewer than seven cases per 100,000 people.